Cruising to Dominica

Cruise travel to Dominica is becoming increasingly popular with vacationers

Photo credit: © Serban Bogdan |

Cruises to Dominica

With unspoiled scenic terrain and eco-adventures to offer visitors, the island of Dominica is becoming a regular port of call for many major cruise lines. The island has three berths that accommodate cruise ships and is experiencing the economic upswing of the increase in cruise tourism.

Although Dominica does not boast the shopping or beaches that other popular cruise destinations such as St. Maarten offer, the island still attracts large numbers of cruise passengers with its alluring terrain and pristine ecosystem. Cruise vacationers represent the majority of yearly visitors to Dominica - more than 350,000 of the 450,000 people who visited in 2010 arrived by cruise ship. Although stopovers typically last only one day, this large influx of cruise calls in recent years has helped inject money into the local economy through business and trade.

Both large and small cruise lines leaving from destinations such as Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Bridgetown, San Juan, and St. John's call on Dominica. The island has three areas where cruise ships can berth; in the capital of Roseau, in the Woodbridge Bay Port just north of Roseau, and in Cabrits cruise ship berth to the north. Visitors who stop on Dominica can enjoy a number of activities, including hiking through the island's rainforests, scuba diving and snorkeling, and whale and dolphin watching. Cruises can be a good way to explore the island of Dominica without spending an entire vacation there.

The popular cruise travel season in the Caribbean, December to April, is identical to the popular tourist travel season for the rest of the region. Weather is temperate and drier during this time, and cruise travelers are less likely to be rained out by Dominica's heavy yearly rainfall. At the north of the Windward Islands, Dominica is also subject to Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, making cruising to the island during the summer hurricane season a little riskier. Fares on cruises during the off season may be reduced, but travelers should consider the risks and benefits before embarking.

Cruise Lines Calling on Dominica

Cruise Line Contact Information
Carnival 888-CARNIVAL
Celebrity Cruises 800-647-2251
08-00-018-25-25 (in the UK)
Cunard 800-7-CUNARD
Holland America 300 Elliott Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119
206-281-7110 (Fax)
Reservations: 877-SAIL-HAL
Norwegian Cruise Line 800-327-7030
Oceania Cruises 8300 NW 33rd Street, Suite 308
Miami, Fla. 33122
Princess Cruises 24844 Avenue Rockefeller
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises 600 Corporate Drive, Suite 410
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33334
Silversea Cruises 110 East Broward Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954-522-4499 (Fax)
Windstar Cruises 800-544-0443

A sample 14-day itinerary on board a major cruise line such as Princess would include stops in Princess Cays, Tortola, Antigua, Dominica, Martinique, Barbados, Grenada, Isla Margarita, Aruba, and Grand Cayman. A cruise on board a smaller vessel with a line such as Windstar may include stops on Tobago, Bequia, Dominica, and Mayreau. Travelers can take excursions as short as five days from a neighboring Caribbean island that will call on Dominica or choose longer excursions such as 10- and 14-day cruises.

Cruise Vessels

Since both large and small cruise vessels call upon the three ports on Dominica, travelers should carefully consider the type of cruise they wish to have along with the specifications of the ship they are interested in. Smaller vessels typically lure travelers with luxury cruises and a high level of customer care and attention. Larger cruise ships offer amenities and benefits that may not be available on smaller ships. Larger ships can also offer luxury cruises, but passengers will be competing with a large number of other vacationers for space.


To stay away from the crowds, consider a cruise vessel that holds a few hundred passengers rather than the thousands held by large cruise vessels. The middle of a larger vessel is the best place for travelers who suffer from seasickness, as rocking is typically not as strong.

The size of a cruise ship does not necessarily correlate to the space available to passengers, nor will it necessarily correlate to the level of customer service and attention. The space that is available on the boat, measured in gross registered tonnage, should be compared with the passenger capacity to calculate a passenger-to-space ratio. Travelers concerned about being on crowded ships should look for ratios that indicate a large amount of space per passenger. Prospective cruise travelers should also compare the number of cruise passengers with the number of waitstaff. The lower the passenger-to-waitstaff ratio, the higher the level of customer service.

Cruises often have themes or cater to specific passengers. Many routes are devoted to exploring a certain region, such as the southern Caribbean. Other cruises celebrate holidays, such as Christmas and New Year's. Specialty cruises can cater to specific groups of travelers, such as singles, older couples, gays and lesbians, and music-lovers.

Class, Cabin, and Cost

Vacationers on a number of different budgets can enjoy taking a Caribbean cruise. Travelers should select a cruise class that meets their budget. Cruises have many amenities and benefits for travelers, from entertainment to luxury rooms stocked with designer items. Large cruise vessels may offer benefits such as casinos, live musical entertainment, comedy, dancing, and other amenities that smaller cruise vessels may not offer. Smaller vessels may offer increased customer service and designer products. In either instance, booking a higher cruise class can give travelers more amenities, increased service, and designer products during their voyage.

Cabins are generally split into two types; run of the ship and perfect. Run of the ship cabins, with normal cruise fares, allow you to request an inner or an outer cabin. You won't know your room assignment or type until the ship departs. Perfect cabins cost more but allow you to choose your exact cabin. Many travelers prefer to stay away from noisier cabins located near bars, gyms, stairs and other ship facilities. Travelers with children should select cabins without a balcony. Choosing a perfect cabin can be a matter of necessity as much as a matter of luxury.

While luxury class and perfect cabins can drive up the cost of a cruise, travel during the off season - even a month or two before and after tourist season - can help save money. Some small cruise lines will include the cost of service charges and gratuities in the bill, while larger cruise vessels may not. Travelers should budget for tips if charges are not included. Additionally, alcohol and other extras on board the ship can add significantly to the price of a cruise, as can onshore excursions and shopping at the ports of call. Planning a vacation budget will help travelers afford the cost of extras.


Caribbean cruises produce occasions for swimming, hiking, fine dining, and dancing, so you will need to pack accordingly. Cabins can be small, however, and travelers should try to pack as lightly as possible.

Some cruise vessels may have dress codes for restaurants, casinos, and special events. Travelers should check with their cruise line prior to packing to learn whether a jacket, tie, or even a suit will be required.

You will need beachwear and active wear regardless of the type of cruise. Sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen are essential. Dominica offers wonderful opportunities for hiking and exploring, so bring hiking boots, pants, and bug spray.

Dress on the Caribbean islands is neat but casual, and travelers should never wear beachwear or revealing clothing in any other location but the pool or beach. Cruise passengers who will be dining in local restaurants or exploring the shops and towns of Dominica or any other island should pack clothing that is appropriate. Travelers can wear shorts but should always attempt to look neat and presentable.

Cruise travel to Dominica has continued to grow in popularity in recent years, as more and more travelers are taking a day to discover the rainforests, waterfalls, and scuba diving of this lush tropical getaway.


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